What Will Happen If The Party Of Regions Comes To Power?

KIEV, Ukraine -- Although the Party of Regions is commonly called an “opposition” party, this is a misnomer that carries with it erroneous implications and assumptions that will lead to erroneous assessments and judgements.

Party of Regions logo

The Regions Party is rather a “restorationist” party that could destroy Ukrainian democracy and threaten European security if its leaders come to power again and turn Ukraine into another Belarus.

Ukrainians re-emerged on Europe’s political map in 1991 after more than 200 years of direct foreign political rule imposed by military might. Between 1709 and 1711, then between 1918 and 1921, and again between 1944 and 1950, Russia invaded Ukraine three times in a series of bloody wars that tied Ukraine to the tsarist and then Soviet empires.

Under Russian rule, Ukrainians got Russian-style serfdom, Siberian exile, governmental prohibition of publishing and teaching in the native language, terror and famine-genocide.

When in 1991 Ukraine emerged as an independent state there was no “liberation war.” Consequently, the imperial or “old regime” elites were not exiled or executed.

They remained in power until 2004 and since then have retained positions of influence to such a degree that they can keep their own out of jail.

Their constituency, meanwhile, is the product of Soviet migration policies that directed Russians into and Ukrainians out of Ukraine.

This immigration and “ethnic dilution”, combined with deportations and millions of unnatural Ukrainian deaths between 1917 and 1947, created large Russian-speaking urban enclaves in the country’s four easternmost provinces.

In addition, educational and media policies channeled upwardly mobile non-Russian rural migrants into Russian-speaking culture, and allowed urban Russians to live, work and satisfy their cultural and spiritual needs without having to use or learn Ukrainian.

Since 1991, an increasing percentage of Russians and Russian-speakers see Ukraine as their native country.

However, in 2005, whereas only 6 percent of Ukrainians still saw themselves as “Soviet citizens,” the percentage for Russians was 18 percent.

And while 2 percent of Ukrainians in Ukraine still did not regard Ukraine as their native country, 9 percent of Russians in Ukraine did not.

This means that a percentage of the population in Ukraine today, of whom most are Russian, support foreign rule over the territory in which they live - much as did once the French in Algeria, the Germans in Bohemia and Poland, the Portuguese in Angola, and the English in Ireland.

This anomie and nostalgia for empire of some Russian speakers would be harmless if not for Ukraine’s neo- Soviet political leaders who exploit it to maintain their bygone imperial-era power in a post-colonial state.

Both would be manageable if leaders in Russia, the former imperial power, were able to resign themselves to the loss of their empire, and like the British, help the new national government rather than its imperial era collaborators.

Putin is no DeGaulle – who realized in the end that French settlers had to leave Algeria.

Ukraine’s neo-Soviet leaders are organized into four major groups, with varying degrees of support, covert and overt, from Russia and its government, whose ambassador to Kyiv, Viktor Chernomyrdin, is not known ever to have made a speech in Ukrainian.

Ukraine’s Communists (1) and the Natalia Vitrenko Bloc (2) openly advocate the abrogation of Ukraine’s independence and its reincorporation into a revamped imperial Russian-dominated USSR.

The Russian Orthodox Church (3), which claims an estimated 50 percent of Ukraine’s Orthodox believers, is not only led by a Patriarch in Moscow, which sits in Putin’s government, but is dominated by its chauvinist, anti-Semitic fringe.

This church does not recognize Ukrainians as a distinct nationality. It publicly supports Ukraine’s Communists, and has fielded priests to run in elections.

In June 2003, the Russian Patriarch gave the leader of Ukraine’s Communist Party, Petro Symonenko, its “Order of Prince Vladimir,” although no more than 8 percent of Ukraine’s voters back these old Communist Party leaders.

The more serious threat to Ukraine is posed by its fourth major neo-Soviet group – the Donetsk-based Party of Regions.

Although the 2004 presidential and 2006 parliamentary election results suggest approximately one-third of all voters in 2006 supported the Party of Regions, these returns are dubious.

First, they are a product of documented coercion, intimidation and covert operations – albeit smaller in scope and scale than was the case in 2004.

Second, they are based on ‘machine politics’ in Ukraine’s eastern provinces where, in control of the local administration and manufacturing, the party can offer people fearing poverty and insecurity short-term material incentives in return for votes.

Third, they are based on a lingering Soviet-style cradle-to-grave enterprise-paternalism, still stronger in eastern than western Ukraine, which allows managers and owners to politically blackmail their employees, much as “company-town” owners did in nineteenth-century Western Europe and America.

How strong the party would be in Ukraine’s east without the dirty-tricks, machine-politics and neo-feudal enterprise-paternalist-based intimidation is difficult to determine. But it likely would have been less than one-third of the seats in the country’s parliament.

The Regions party ostensibly supports Ukrainian independence in as much as its leaders regard Ukraine as a territory that they should control as a “blackmail state,” just as they controlled it up to 2004.

Yet, Region’s anti-constitutional advocacy of Russian as a “second language” shows it wants to keep Ukraine within the Russian-language communications sphere and out of the English-language communications sphere.

While the Canadian and Polish ambassadors to Ukraine can learn Ukrainian before their appointments well enough to use it publicly, some Party of Regions leaders have the unmitigated gall to speak Russian in parliament.

Some, like former Deputy Prime Minister Mykola Azarov, have not yet managed to learn Ukrainian after 15 years of independence.

But then again, how many French in Algeria learned Arabic? How many English in Ireland learned Gaelic? How many whites in Africa knew Swahili or Bantu? How many Japanese learned Chinese or Korean? How many Germans in Breslau learned Polish?

Regions leaders, additionally, engage in symbolic colonial-homage type acts that pander to imperial Russian nostalgia and compromise Ukraine’s status as an independent country.

In November 2005 in Russia’s Krasnoyarsk, for example, Regions leader Viktor Yanukovych publicly gave the speaker of the Russian State Duma a bulava – the symbol of Ukrainian statehood.

While the party formally supports Euro-integration, just like Russian President Vladimir Putin supports the Eurointegration of Russia, it has not explicitly stated that it is for “EU membership for Ukraine.”

Given this omission, there is every reason to believe that if Regions gets control of the country they will first incorporate Ukraine into the Moscow-sponsored Single Economic Space, and only then, via Russia, “integrate into Europe,” just like Belarus.

Party leaders learned their politics under Soviet-era Ukrainian leader Vladimir Shcherbitsky, ran Kuchma’s “blackmail state,” and employed criminal Bolshevik-style electioneering and campaign practices.

They publicly belittle Ukrainian independence, are in constant contact with Russian extremists like Deputy Duma Speaker Vladimir Zhirinovsky, Konstantin Zatulin, and Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov, and they included the Communist Party in the new coalition announced on July 7.

All of which shows that for all their chatter about laws, representation and committees, Ukraine’s neo-Soviet Party of Regions is no mere opposition party. It is more a restorationist party whose purpose is to destabilize the country.

If the Party of Regions’s tactics succeed, they will strengthen those opposed to Ukraine’s entry into the EU and who think that the country should remain in Russia’s sphere of influence.

Foreign observers must ask themselves how a renewed Party of Regions-led Kuchma-like “blackmail state” is supposed to fit into the EU?

How is Russia, a resource-based autocracy, supposed to be “stable” when resource-based autocracies everywhere else in the world are notoriously unstable?

Ukrainians can be sure that Party of Regions leaders will not trouble Bill Gates about a Ukrainian version of Windows, or Hollywood studios about Ukrainian dubbing and subtitles, or fashion magazine chains like Burda about Ukrainian translations.

Source: Kyiv Post


Anonymous said…
Bravo! Well said.
Anonymous said…
This is bullshit, frst: Western Ukrain does not represent the Eastern Ukrain, it even does not speak the same language and isprofess a differnt religion.
Why you guys dont become part of a greater Poland after you have much more in commo.

And let Eastern ukrain go back to its roots of Malorosssia.